The Association for Science Education
  1. Home
  2. Resources
  3. Curriculum and Assessment

Curriculum and Assessment

ASE provides support and advice for science subject leaders, teachers and schools. Find out more about joining ASE.

Resources below have been selected by ASE's expert Assembly to support implementing changes to the curriculum and assessment in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Science Education Policy (See our science education policy section)

The UK nations are seeing continuous curriculum change currently. This following report gives details of the comparison of education policy in the UK nations.

Science Skills

UK-wide STEM education provision has been recognised as the key to ensuring that the 'science skills gap' is closed.

  • (Primary) The Nuffield Foundation has worked with ASE and other organisations to develop a framework for assessment of primary science.
  • (Primary) This has led to further on-going research with Bath Spa University looking at “Teacher Assessment in Primary years” (TAPs)
  • (all) In a similar vein the NAHT has set up a commission on assessment and testing. Considering ‘life after levels’ There are documents to support principles of good assessment and an assessment design check-list.

England - Main Guidance

Changes to the national curriculum in the form of Programmes of Study, came into force in September 2014, with KS4 content continuing to be linked to provision of new GCSE specifications from September 2016. New AS and A levels will be taught from September 2015. 

Ofsted recently published Maintaining Curiosity, a three year study of what’s good and what can be improved in primary and secondary science.

Making judgements about science in your school:

  • Ofsted carry out subject specific inspections, and have in the past published science specific supplementary guidance. Currently this has been removed from the Ofsted website, though we have assurance that any science inspections will make reference to this guidance. There are sections on Overall Effectiveness, Achievement of pupils in science, Quality of Teaching in science, Quality of the Curriculum in science, Quality of leadership in and Management of Science.  These give good guidance to what the expectations are of science in a school, and might help you to raise the profile with your head teachers.
  • (Secondary only) The National STEM centre has a self-evaluation tool to help guide you through the process of departmental self evaluation, this is also linked to the Ofsted criteria.

Exam Boards offering science courses: AQAPearson EdexcelOCR and WJEC

Overview of practical science assessment:

Progress 8 (in England):

In 2016, the new accountability measure, Progress 8, will be introduced to all schools replacing the 5 A*-C measure. The new measure is designed to encourage greater balance in the curriculum and includes science. GCSE grading changes to 1-9.

Assessment without levels 

  • Advice for schools on assessment after the removal of the national curriculum system of levels for grading children, including the government response and video clips from the chair of the commission and OFsted
  • Intermin frameworks for  teacher assessment at KS1 for 2015 and 16 only, including science
  • Interim frameworks for teacher assessment at KS2 for 2015 and 2016 only, including science

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS):

  • Primary Assessment - Performance Descriptors for KS1 and KS2 for the 2014 National Curriculum in England were published in September 2015. These will be used by Y2 and Y6 teachers to make teacher assessments of children’s attainment across KS1 and KS2. View ASE members update
  • EYFS Profile – Handbook for making and reporting judgements against the Early learning Goals. Also note information on The Characteristics of Effective Learning which include elements of working scientifically
  • EYFS exemplification materials – examples of children meeting the Early Learning Goal ‘The World’

Northern Ireland - Main Guidance

All matters curriculum and assessment can be found at the Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

There is some concern regarding the non-statutory nature of science. A recent report from the NI Assembly looks at the integration of history, geography and science as the World Around Us (WAU).

Additionally the inspectorate ETINI carried out a review into WAU curriculum, and made recommendations in January 2015.

New A-Level specifications are yet to be approved. Draft specifications for biology, chemistry and physics are on CCEA website:

AS and A level remain coupled, and both CCEA and WJEC will continue to assess practical skills directly worth 20%.

GCSE review will start later in 2015, there has been no decision yet to respond to the Ofqual practical work proposals. Modular assessment remains, but the January series is removed.

Scotland - Main Guidance

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence has given rise to new qualifications that started in 14-15 and more to come in 15-16.

  • This Infographic shows how these relate to existing qualifications.

There is support for National qualifications in Biology, Physics and Chemistry old and new. Principles and practice in science are key to the Curriculum for Excellence.

New research finds that pupils in Scotland are not being provided with the science equipment and resources to meets the demands of the curriculum and that teachers are insufficiently supported to teach science.

Wales - Main Guidance

All curriculum and assessment materials can be found at Learning Wales.

There was a recent review of curriculum and assessment arrangements from Foundation phase to KS4 conducted by Prof. Graham Donaldson. Further resources are being provided to support science as a result of this review.

ASE have published an article explaining the Welsh perspective

Reform to qualifications at AS/A2 and GCSE are ongoing, with WJEC been the only awarding body to agree to develop specifications for Wales.

Last updated 20 July 2015.